Palestinians Rally in Support of Abbas, Against Trump Plan, Amid Struggle at UN (with VIDEO)
PA denies it pulled Security Council resolution after disappointing support
Thousands of Palestinians packed Ramallah’s Manara Square on Tuesday to reject US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan and to show support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he tries to garner support at the United Nations for a resolution opposing the initiative.
Amid a carnival-like atmosphere, the massive crowd waved Palestinian flags and carried pictures of Abbas and former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. The demonstration was called by the ruling Fatah movement, which bused in Palestinians from all over the West Bank.
Palestine TV began coverage of the march early in the day ahead of Abbas’s speech at the UN in New York with live studio feeds from throughout Ramallah’s city center.
Top Palestinian officials passed the microphone to each other, giving fiery speeches rejecting the Trump Mideast plan and pleading with their Arab brethren not to give in to US pressure.
Mahmoud al-Aloul, Fatah deputy leader, told The Media Line the plan was a “conspiracy” aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.
“We are here to say ‘No’ to the ‘deal of the century,’ to say that we are determined to confront it and that we accept this challenge. We are here to say to Abu Mazen [Abbas] that we are with him and behind him and support him in his firm position that rejects the deal.”
President Abbas was scheduled to deliver a speech at the UN later in the day, but confusion surrounded whether a vote set for Tuesday on a draft Security Council resolution condemning the Trump plan would take place.
Palestinian officials denied the resolution had been withdrawn after reports that members of the Security Council, including European countries, had rejected the language in a draft that had been circulated.
Palestinians in Ramallah carried banners reading, “Trump is part of the problem, not the solution,” and calling the plan “The theft of the century.”
Ahmad Majdalani, the PA’s social affairs minister and a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told The Media Line the Palestinian people was united against the White House plan.
“We are here to say ‘no’ to those who attack the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people today is united to deliver its message, that we stand by Abu Mazen at the Security Council, to say this is our decision and our option, which is international legitimacy and international law, in addition to an independent state and freedom, as well as an end to the occupation and establishment of a state on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast plan at the White House on January 28, with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at his side. The proposal, which was rejected immediately by the Palestinians as biased and one-sided, would allow Israel to annex large parts of its West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal by most of the international community.
Minjed Debabda, a 53-year-old resident of Ramallah, told The Media Line he was at the protest to express his opposition to the plan.
“I reject it because it reduces the rights of the Palestinian people to nothing. We support President Abbas and urge him to remain steadfast in the face of this international conspiracy against the Palestinian people.” Debabda said.
Arafat Abu Ras, 42, who drove to the rally from the West Bank city of Nablus, said:
“I came to protest because I believe that our people are very strong. The deal of the century will not pass. We have very good will and we are strong people; we are struggling to get our rights back. We reject it because [it has] no justice, it’s not equal. The world must understand that there are people living here from a long time ago. We [will] remain and stay in this land.”
Shatha Arafat, a 21-year-old student at An-Najah National University in Nablus, told The Media Line that she came to express the student body’s rejection of the plan and to support President Abbas.
“This deal has major ramifications for us as citizens, especially for us as young people; it basically attempts to cleanse the Palestinian people from this land, but this land is ours. We must stand firm on this land.”
Abbas is trying to rally the international community behind him in condemning the American initiative. The Palestinian Authority called for an emergency Arab League meeting two weeks ago that Abbas attended, and despite unanimous public support by key Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the two US allies issued statements praising Trump’s effort and called on Palestinians and Israelis to give the plan a chance.
On Sunday, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh gave a speech at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, opposing the US peace proposal.
The original draft of the US Security Council resolution, co-sponsored by Tunisia and Indonesia and backed by the Palestinians, said the US plan violated international law and Security Council demands for a two-state solution based on the borders before the 1967 Mideast war. It would have expressed the council’s determination “to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions, including enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the [UN] Charter,” which allows the council to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security.”
Any Security Council resolution is virtually certain to be vetoed by the United States, but the Palestinians had hoped that a strong show of support from other members of the council would help shore up international backing for their demands.
The Palestinians cut off ties with the American administration at the end of 2017 after the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.